Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace, mercy and peace be to you in Jesus, the Lord of His people, the church!
It’s all About God at Work Among Us
About 12 years ago, you called me to serve Christ and you as your Pastor. Back then we were worshiping in a small storefront space next to the Fair Grounds on Washington Blvd, flanked by a “Prom Dress and Bikini” shop and a hair salon. But I loved it from the beginning because I didn’t see the building, I saw the people. (After all, it’s not the building that’s the church, it’s the people!) And we all saw the great opportunity for mission and ministry that God was laying before us.
For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 1:13)
It is God who opened the door for that first group of Christians to begin ministry as St. Matthew congregation. It is God who opened the door to continued growth. It is God who opened the door for us — you and me — to do ministry together. It is God who opened the door for us to come to our present location. And it is God who continues to open wide the doors so we might continue to grow in our ministry with Him and for Him in His kingdom, for the salvation and the good of many!
From My Heart to Yours
The way God has put me together as a Pastor is that, because of the love for people God has worked in my heart, I see everything through the eyes of mission and ministry. I have a heart for those who are not yet Christians.
My mind is always looking to enable all of us together to more effectively reach the people around us with the life-saving Good News of Jesus Christ! And I have a heart to see us Christians growing in our faith relationship with Jesus as we grow in discipleship and in the mission we are all on together with Christ!
By God’s grace, I have a heart that evaluates and sees everything through these eyes. That’s why I find myself to be strongly in favor of the Board’s recommendation that we move from where we are now to the building less than two miles away, which the Space Committee discovered as they did their due diligence. Let me explain why.
Our Ministry Is Unique and Needed
As Lutheran Christians we are unique in our mission and ministry because we believe salvation is ours by God’s grace in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection alone. As you’ve often heard me say, “Because of Jesus, it’s a done deal. We live in grace. Period.”
The sweetness of this Gospel is life-saving water to all those wearied and worn by the strains of life. God put us here in our growing community, with its mixture of residents: a large component of intact nuclear families (moms, dads, kids); an increasing number of young adults, both singles and those just starting their families; and large retirement communities. We want to reach out to all ages
with this Good News.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
We worship in two different styles — yet the message of grace is always the same! We connect with those who prefer Classic worship because they’ll hear a Biblically grounded, grace-based message that lifts up the Bible as the Word of God and Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! And we connect with those who prefer Band-Led worship because it offers the same grace-based message and proclamation of Jesus.
Whichever worship style we choose, we all come together — we do life together — in a bold witness. Our oneness in faith confirms to all that this same grace and Savior makes us family in Him!
The Very Real Need
Our space limitations severely restrict our ability to grow in this ministry. We see this in many ways, from our four weekend worship services to our lack of parking to our lack of children’s space, student space, and adult Bible study space.
When I think about ministry, mission, and worship, I think about the three variables of space, place and time. I came to the conclusion that the only option which will meet all these variables is to relocate to this new building — this new opportunity — God has put before us.
Yes, building at our present location may meet some of these needs temporarily, but it cannot meet them all. To stay where we are and build where we are would leave us unable to meet our full ministry potential.
Imagine with me for a moment…
Imagine. A place set aside and uniquely designed for Classic worship, but in a modern context, with plenty of room for an organ and piano and choirs.
Imagine. A large enough place set aside for Band-led worship in a space designed acoustically, practically, and electronically for Band-led worship.
Imagine. A place large enough to enable us to do these styles of worship with even more excellence. This would allow those who feel especially connected with God through either worship style to feel comfortable and lifted up. And imagine that these worship services could be offered at a time desired by the majority of people who prefer either worship style, including those whom we invite to worship with us.
Imagine a large and comfortable “third space” where we can all connect before or after worship. A place where we don’t feel “too crowded.” A space designed in a way that encourages us to relax and share our lives. Imagine having plenty of parking with plenty of spaces for disabled persons and convenient access to the building.
Imagine ample space for children’s ministry where we don’t need to put numerous age groups together, as well as separate space for Jr. High, High School, and even College.
Imagine how this can affect our ministry to the upcoming generations as we provide integrated space for study, presentation, group-building, and fun for every age group.
Imagine space for adult Sunday morning Bible studies and studies throughout the week — from large groups to small groups to any size groups.
Imagine having enough space to do things creatively that we have not yet even thought to do as we connect with our community and the various groups within it.
Imagine, space to grow… and grow some more… and grow some more!
It Is Always About People
These things are close to my heart because they are all about people. It grieves me when I see people worshiping at 8 a.m. whom I know would rather worship later in the morning but find 11 a.m. is too late. Then I wonder how many people haven elected not to worship with us because of these time barriers.
It grieves me when I see the 9:30 a.m. worship so crowded that people cannot find a place. Then I wonder how many people did not return because of this space barrier.
It concerns me when I hear of people who come to worship and find the parking lot full. It bothers me when I hear about teachers trying to present a lesson to 25 kids from 1st through 4th grades, all jammed into one room, or that there is virtually no space for Student (high school) Ministry on Sunday morning. Then I wonder how many families have not returned because of these barriers. It bothers me when I see one tiny little room for adult Sunday morning Bible Study.
All of this troubles me, especially because it makes me wonder what message we are giving to our guests — and members — about what we value. We can be so much better! I truly believe God has given us this opportunity for just this moment in our ministry together!
WE Are The Church!
In John 4, Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman who says to Him, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain (where the Samaritans said their ancestors, Abraham and Jacob, had built altars to God) but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is Jerusalem.” Jesus’ answer? In essence, He tells her (and us) that with His coming there are now NO HOLY PLACES! He says don’t hold on to a place of worship because of its history or your lineage, for there is no longer any PLACE where God dwells with His Spirit as he did in the Old Testament Temple. Rather, we — both individually and together as His people — are the temple of God. We are the church! We are the “holy place” where God dwells in a special way by His Spirit for the blessing of the world. And we are on mission with Jesus!
What We Bring to This Community
What we bring to our mission as Lutheran Christians of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is not a particular style of building or worship, but rather a unique insight into the truth of God. We start truth where God does: in Jesus. “I am the… truth!”
Our cornerstone is Grace. We uniquely, powerfully, and unashamedly start there and never leave it. We are saved by grace through faith! We know and proclaim the Bible is God’s Word of truth–every word of it. More than this, we know the Bible to be a means through which God’s Spirit touches our hearts with Jesus!
As Lutheran Christians, we uniquely see Baptism and Holy Communion as a means through which God’s Spirit, through His Word, is mysteriously present and at work, touching our hearts with Jesus. And as the “Priesthood of All Believers,” we see ourselves as God does: His Spirit-filled presence in this world, on mission with Jesus! What makes us unique and a blessing to our world and our community as Lutheran Christians are these truths we proclaim and live in the love of Jesus!
Brought By God to This Moment
What a great time to be part of the mission of Jesus in this place! We are growing in every way! We are touching our community with love! And in our challenging questions of space, place, and time, God has provided us with a gift that not only meets every one of these challenges but goes beyond, giving us even more opportunities for mission and ministry as God leads us into the future! A future that, as a gift of God, seems to me should look like this:
“New Place. More Space. Same Grace!”
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
It is almost as if God is personally beckoning us to follow Him to this new place which offers all kinds of space, chosen for us in His grace and kindness. May God’s Spirit guide us together on this continuing journey as we follow Jesus!
Sincerely in Christ,
PS. For any who wish to talk more about any of these things concerning the proposed move, you are invited to join me here at church on Monday, July 9th, from 6:00 – 7:00pm.
You are welcome to email the Governing Board with any questions at the-board@StMatthewRocklin.com
Learn more about the Governing Board’s Recommendation
MONDAY, JULY 9
6:00 - 7:00pm in the Sanctuary at St. Matthew
Informational Meeting: Vision and Use for New Space
SATURDAY, JULY 21
3:00 - 4:00pm at the kiosk in the Narthex at St. Matthew
More Information Available: Summary of Recommendation
SUNDAY, JULY 22
9:00 - 11:00am at the kiosk in the Narthex at St. Matthew
More Information Available: Summary of Recommendation
SATURDAY, JULY 28
3:00 - 4:00pm in the Sanctuary at St. Matthew
*** VOTERS MEETING ***